I’ll be honest with you guys, I still feel pretty baseball drunk from what happened tonight. First there were the Cliff Lee rumors. Then Jackie Bradley Jr. was pulled from his game in Pawtucket. Then there was a false report that Giancarlo Stanton had been pulled from his game in Miami that literally broke Twitter. Once injury news of Bradley broke and reality told us to all calm down – and we actually tried to do it – only for things to get weird again.
Jose Iglesias got removed late in last night’s game vs. Seattle for Brandon Snyder and you guessed it – everyone smelled that something was up. But Lee to Boston it was not. Nor was it Stanton to Boston, either.
It was Jake Peavy.
In the span of about 10 minutes, the Red Sox were able to talk an obviously drunken Dave Dombrowski and the Detroit Tigers into cannonballing into a hot tub full of steamy Peavy talk with the Chicago White Sox; a fling that would end up sending the former Cy Young Award winner to Boston, ship Iglesias to Detroit and a whole mess of prospects to the South Side of Chi-town.
While only God knows the kind of sins and copulation that was had in that tub, everyone came away with something they wanted. For the Tigers, it was insurance against the looming loss of SS Jonny Peralta in the wake of the all-consuming Biogenesis scandal and an upgrade of an obviously anemic defense. The White Sox, were able to inject some young players into their organization and save some cash on an obviously lost season – putting them in position to either rebuild or reload for 2014. For Boston, they got a quality starter that they hope will be the final piece necessary to put them over the top as they pursue playoff glory.
So how did the Red Sox really do? Let’s break it down:
What we got
Depending on how serious the Phillies were about dealing Cliff Lee, Peavy was probably the best pitcher on this year’s trade market and justifiably so. He throws nearly two-thirds of his pitches for strikes, hardly walks anyone and allowed for the winning suitor to control him for the next two years, as opposed to a two-month rental. When stacked up against Lee, he’s clearly the inferior pitcher, but when you factor in the cost of acquisition and the cost of their contracts, the Red Sox ended up with a pitcher who fits in far better with the organization’s long and short-term outlook.
While he earned the injury tag over the course of his career, that really hasn’t been the case the last two seasons – as he logged 219 IP in 2012 and was just fine until a freakishly odd rib ailment sidelined him for a few weeks this past month. To be sure, Jakes’s a guy who has taken his licks, but let’s make no mistake about it – he’s not Eric Bedard. In fact, Bedard probably couldn’t lace up his cleats.
Over the past two years, Peavy’s flat-out out-performed some of the biggest names in baseball, posting a better SIERA than the likes of R.A. Dickey (3.63), Mat Latos (3.62), Gio Gonzalez (3.54), Zack Greinke (3.55), Matt Moore (4.11) and C.J. Wilson (4.09). His FIP has compared nicely to Jared Weaver, Hiroki Kuroda, Derek Holland and C.C. Sabathia. Long story, short; he’s really good.
Peavy’s an extreme fly ball pitcher, which means he’ll give up his fair share of knocks – but even at that, it’s hard to imagine that what we’ve seen in super-hitter friendly US Cellular Field is going to be all that different from what we’re going to see in hitter friendly Fenway Park. The fact that Peavy’s gotten the job done so well in a park like Chicago’s is a good thing, not a bad thing and likely gives us a much clearer picture of what we’re going to get.
What we gave up
Jose Iglesias, while obviously fantastic with the glove, had been playing way above his head with the bat for much of the season. After having ridden a BABIP that registered well over .400 through April, May and June, the luck dried up this month, as he’s managed a meager .200/.243/.213 line in July that also included an astonishingly bad .167/.167/.167 in his final 18 games with the club.
While opinion has always been divided on whether his bat would come around enough to make him a viable MLB starter, his future in Boston was never quite secure. With the emergence of top prospect Xander Bogaerts, it became even less so. With the organization seeing the writing on the wall, now was probably the best time to cash in on Iglesias’ value while it was still high and get a player that can help the club in the present.
In terms of the three Minor Leaguers involved in the trade, they’re almost all high-risk lottery tickets. Francellis Montas throws straight gas – 100mph, in fact – but his control issues make his projections foggy at best, with many seeing him as a late inning relief option, only. J.B. Wendelken dominated the Gulf Coast League, but again – his upside is really only seen as a reliever at best at the Major League level– and he’s got a long way to go to get there. The most intriguing of the bunch is probably Cleuluis Rondon, who’s an extraordinarily athletic middle infielder that’s been blocked most of his career. A lot of folks see his ceiling as a utility infielder, but he’s got decent bat speed and has shown more than his fair share of gap power during his pro career. There might be a chance that with increased playing time, he could put it together and his raw athleticism might re-calibrate his ceiling. Still, he’s far from a sure thing.
It’s really difficult to hate this deal once you consider just how insane the overall market for starting pitching is, these days. In fact, when you look at Peavy’s direct comparables from the last two years, you really begin to appreciate just how good a deal this is from the Red Sox standpoint.
Here are the four big starters who’ve been dealt the last two trade deadlines and their cumulative production over the past two seasons:
Jake Peavy: 299.0 IP 3.61 ERA, 3.83 FIP, 3.59 SIERA, 8.13 K/9, 1.99 BB/9, 5.6 WAR
Matt Garza: 189.0 IP, 3.48 ERA, 3.93 FIP, 3.69 SIERA, 8.05 K/9, 2.62 BB/9, 2.5 WAR
Zack Greinke: 310.1 IP, 3.48 ERA, 3.33 FIP, 3.55 SIERA, 7.98 K/9, 2.47 BB/9, 5.7 WAR
Anibal Sanchez: 299.2 IP, 3.45 ERA, 3.13 FIP, 3.45 SIERA, 8.59 K/9, 2.43 BB/9 7.2 WAR
To get Garza from the Cubs, the Rangers had to part with Mike Olt (a top 100 prospect). To get Sanchez from the Marlins, the Tigers had to deal Justin Turner (A top 25 Prospect when he was dealt). To get Greinke, the Angels had to part with their 2nd, 4th and 9th best prospects. The Red Sox didn’t even trade anyone in their top 35 and shipped what is (right now) an all glove, no hit SS somewhere else. Factor in the fact that the Red Sox will get Peavy for longer than two months and frankly, this is a bargain when put up against the backdrop of recent deals.
Even if we try to amplify Iglesias’ skills or hedge his value at 3B, with or without him – the hot corner situation for the Red Sox is pretty darn mediocre. Essentially in giving him up, the Red Sox will at least be able to free up a bit of the logjam that’s occurred on the left side of the infield and begin to add some genuine clarity to the situation. It gives Will Middlebrooks a chance to come back and prove his worth and certainly opens the door for a Xander Bogaerts call up later this season – or both.
On top of the residual situation in the field, the effect on the pitching staff is significant. While Peavy’s acquisition certainly protects again the possibility of losing Buchholz for the remainder of the season, it also absolves the Red Sox of having to go out and make a deal for another reliever. Instead, they get to move the talented Brandon Workman to the pen. If Buchholz does come back, the playoff rotation looks a lot more fearsome, as will the bullpen, who’ll likely see one or both of Ryan Dempster and Felix Doubront introduced to it. It takes some of the strain off the developing young pitchers in the farm system as well and also gives the Red Sox a nice, deep well of pitching to deal in the coming offseason.
All things considered, the Red Sox essentially shipped off very little in the way of meaningful pieces in exchange for a good pitcher who helps address multiple needs at once and gives them added flexibility heading forward. Most importantly, they didn’t have to give up anything of significance in their farm system – leaving them equipped to pull off nearly any deal they want in the offseason provided that’s the route they choose to take.
Perspective’s healthy, and keeping with that – it’s pretty clear that the Red Sox got a really good deal, here.